NASA Insignia


By bringing together ground and space communities around common scientific goals, ORCAS answers fundamental scientific questions of the 2020's at a small sat budget, a decade ahead of its time.

Mission Characteristics

  • Community driven observing program
  • 10 meter nearly diffraction limited at 500 nm
  • Limiting Magnitude of 29 with 1 hour of exposure
  • Wavelength Coverage: 0.5-5 µm
  • 300 AO observations & 1500 flux-calibration sessions
  • Serviceable Ground Configuration
  • 2026 Launch Date
  • 3 years prime mission
  • Sky Coverage: Keck observable sky
  • Can use both Keck I & II elescopes Simultaneously
  • Low Mission Cost: Less than $75 Million
  • Highly Elliptical Orbit with ~200,000 km Apogee
  • Solar Electric Propulsion System, > 4,000 m/s Delta-V

All Four Sub-Components of the ORCAS Mission

All Four Sub-Components of the ORCAS Mission
Laser Payload (top left), Flux Calibrator (center), W. MI. Keck Observatory with Adaptive Optics (bottom left), and Spacecraft (bottom right).


ORCAS Orbit - 5 Day Period - Highly Elliptical